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"The Master Belcher of Rotterdam"

Adrian (the Brewer) Mazurski

As his name indicates, the artist's principal job was the operation of Rotterdam's largest Polish-style brewery, with its attached alehouse and restaurant. The Poles in Holland at this time were mostly laborers, carters and porters, so the social tone of Mazurski's beer hall was not that high, consisting mainly of polka dancing and bar fights. A Saturday night treat was the Belching Competition, when drinkers would attempt to outdo each other in sonic eructation, the winner being awarded some more sausages and ale. Inevitably this led to bar fights when the audience disagreed on the relative merits of the contestants. 

A frequent winner of the Belching Competition was Boleslaw "The Tarnobrzeg Thunderer" Pornowski who, it is reputed, once blew out a stained glass window in the chapel of St. Casmir in Leczyca while he waited to attend confession. Mazurski painted the champion at the moment of one of his Saturday night victories as he triumphed over the competition, fuelled as he was by aged kielbasa, spiced sauerkraut and a drink called "The Pope's Chamber Pot," consisting of warm porter, bock beer and half-fermented potato vodka.

"The Brewer's" other works are also set in his saloon. Most notable from this period is "The Splitting of the Bodice of the Harlot Called Bernice Caused by a Sneeze Engendered by Snuff Mingled with Paprika." For many years it hung in the men's room of the Teatr Narodowy in Warsaw. It was the only work of art not stolen from the theatre by the Nazis in 1939.


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